When the Jazz have needed a shot late in games, Gordon Hayward has been the man with the ball in his hands.
But in the minutes during the second half leading up to those moments?
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Not so much.
The sample size is obviously small — just three games in fact — but so far this year Hayward has done his damage in the first half of games. His scoring production has fallen off in the game’s later stages.
He had eight points in the first half against Oklahoma City, and added just four more on 1-of-6 shooting in the second. In Phoenix, Hayward finished with 18 points, but hit only one shot and one free throw in the second half.
Hayward went 2-for-7 over the final 24 minutes Saturday against Houston.
"Teams focus on him," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. "He’s got a body on him most of the time. It’s something he’s got to learn the kind of shape he has to have to handle that. He’s getting better. He’ll continue to get better, because we’re going to need to play through him."
It’s a problem some expected for Hayward as he moved into an expanded role as one of the Jazz’s primary scoring options.
"It’s very difficult," Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said. "The stars in this league probably don’t get enough credit for being able to do it night in and night out."
As a player, Hornacek was the third option in Phoenix behind Tom Chambers and Kevin Johnson. When he was traded to Philadelphia, that changed.
"I would drive by a guy and all of a sudden another guy was in my lap," he said. "You could never get a breather. … [Hayward is] going to have to deal with that, other teams really scheming for him."
Hall of Famer dies
Hall of Fame center Walt Bellamy died Saturday at the age of 74.
Bellamy was the first pick in the 1961 draft and averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds over 14 NBA seasons. His last game in the league came on Oct. 17, 1974. It was Bellamy’s first and only game as a member of the New Orleans Jazz.
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